11 August 2008

Nigeria: ICPC - List of Corrupt Ex-Govs Under Way

Abuja — The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, has said the commission will come out with the list of corrupt ex-governors soon.

The former governors are those allegedly found to have violated the provisions of the ICPC Act 2000.

According to a press release by the commission's resident media consultant, Folu Olamiti, the list would emerge within the next two weeks.

Olamiti said: "We are looking at the files. They are 20 or 23 of the former state governors. I believe that in the next two weeks we will know which of them are to be investigated or not. Some of them are already being prosecuted for money laundering. Money laundering is not in our mandate."

The ICPC boss said the Act permitted the commission to go after the former governors once they lost their immunity, adding that there was no need for an independent counsel to investigate and prosecute them.

"We are scrutinising the file to see whether there are cases that we could now pursue. Many of these allegations were committed as far back as 2003. We need to see which of these allegations are motivated for election purposes.

"For this category of people, we don't need an independent counsel. But we have one or two petitions against serving state governors. It is not our responsibility to appoint independent counsel. What the law says is when we come across such petitions we should pass them to the Chief Justice of the Federation who has the mandate to appoint independent counsel.

"The Chief Justice will study the allegations and consider whether it is worthwhile to appoint independent counsel to investigate those allegations. When the Independent Counsel investigates, he does not prosecute. He reports to the legislature. It is for the legislature to take over from there." he said.

According to the statement, Justice Ayoola in an answer to a question said the commission had received a petition calling for a probe of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, adding that the petition appeared vague but was quick to say that the special unit of the commission was studying and analysing it.

"As far as we are concerned, nobody should feel offended if investigated. It is what the laws say that we will do. It is misconception to look at the status of a person and conclude that you are not going to investigate him".

The ICPC boss also said that setting up of special courts might not necessarily solve the problem associated with delay in the prosecution of corruption-related cases, adding," setting up special courts is an option. There is a bill before the National Assembly but with benefit of past experiences, it may probably work for a while but nobody can guarantee that it will be the solution to the problem".

On former Senate President Adolphus Wabara's case still pending in court, Justice Ayoola said he sympathised with the Senator stressing that,"I think it is unfair to keep a person under that kind of suspense but the challenge is for the court. The case is still in court and we just have to wait for the system to perform".

In a related development the ICPC will request the House of Representatives to forward its report on the probe of the Energy sector in order to assist the commission in carrying out a system review in line with its mandate.

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